It’s Harvest Time: Decorating for the Occasion {guest post}

There is a common misconception that the best time to have an outdoor party is during the summer, when you can watch the kids jump around in the swimming pool during the day and listen to the frogs and crickets serenade your guests at night. There’s no doubt about it – summer parties are fantastic. But don’t discount the autumn months as another great time of year to enjoy your porch, patio or deck.

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When the temperature begins to drop and the leaves flutter steadily from the trees, you can sit outdoors without mopping your brow and swatting at mosquitoes. Decorating your space for the cooler months of the year is a great way to remind yourself and your visitors to enjoy fall.

Keeping Things Toasty

If you are planning on spending some time outdoors once the weather gets cooler, you may want to consider a few ways to heat things up for yourself and your guests. Fortunately, there are a few options to get that cozy, autumn warmth. And these days, there is no need to burn down the yard or the house with a wild bonfire while you’re trying to enjoy the ambience.

Fire Pits

If you have the space for an outdoor fire pit, there are plenty of benefits to investing in one. Not only do they bring your guests together so they get to know one another, but they also provide a focal point for the outdoor area as well as the opportunity to cook food outdoors, over an open fire.

Chimineas and Outdoor Fire Places

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There are few things more nostalgic than an actual chimney. If that’s not a possibility, a chiminea fireplace can warm up the atmosphere and bring a glow to your porch or deck. Chimineas come in different materials and sizes to suit your home; they can be made from

  • Cast iron;
  • Cast aluminum;
  • Clay.

Patio Heaters

Many outdoor businesses have patio heaters (also called umbrella heaters or mushroom heaters) in order to keep guests happy. If you are looking to enjoy a meal or gathering in your own outdoor space and just want a heater to keep things warm, a patio heater could be your best bet. Your guests and family members can hover around it and warm their hands – just be sure to tell them not to touch the heater while it is on!

Festive Colors and Shapes

A fire is wonderful, but it can only take you so far. Why not decorate your patio or porch with some autumn friendly decorations and crafts? It’s a good way to get the kids involved, create a perfect environment for gatherings and ditch that “summer’s over” feeling.

Autumn Wreaths

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A wreath with autumn’s brilliant hues of red, gold, orange and yellow is just the thing to warm up the atmosphere on your porch. They are easy to make, and, if you use artificial foliage, they will last quite a while.

Don’t limit yourself to leaves, either. Any symbol of fall will work in a wreath. Try these ideas:

  • Acorns;
  • Pinecones;
  • Apples and other fall fruits;
  • Twigs;
  • Mums and other fall flowers;
  • Corn cobs.

Centerpieces

Are you hosting a fall picnic on your deck or porch? Spruce it up with a festive centerpiece. Create your own harvest cornucopia ñ you can usually buy one ready-made and fill it with fall-friendly items, such as fruits and flowers. Or you can get a pumpkin and surround it with brightly colored leaves from your own yard.

Fall Lighting

Is your deck or your porch feeling woefully dark once the time changes? Brighten it up with some festive lights. If you have a fence around your yard, a string of white lights can make things much cozier. You can also use red or orange lights – try a single color strand or use several.

Candles in scents such as apple, cinnamon or burning logs can also brighten up a table or a porch – just make sure not to leave anything burning unattended.

An Autumn Garden

Don’t think for a second that just because spring won’t return until next year, you cannot have a beautiful outdoor garden. These flowers are hearty during the colder months of the year and will make your outdoor area glow with colors.

PlentiFall Pansies

These flowers, unlike regular pansies, can withstand temperatures below freezing. They should bloom for you well into the spring if you plant them in early fall.

Confederate Rose

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The Southern classic of Confederate rose makes a great choice for planting in early fall if you live in the southern hardiness zones (8 or higher). The colors range from white to deep pink.

Bluestars

They say it’s tough to kill a bluestar, so, if you are hesitant about your green thumb, start with these in your fall garden.

Remember, summer is not the only time of year to enjoy being outside. Make the most of the cooler weather and invite your friends and family to enjoy autumn’s bounty.

Jay Harris is a Home Depot sales associate in Illinois and contibutes regularly to the Home Depot website on lumber products. His home outdoor interests range from providing tips on outdoor living projects such as decks, fencing and gardening.

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